Month: October 2019

The Cost of the Vote

 

Monday was voting day in Canada, our 43rd general election since Confederation in 1867. I voted on a miserable, stormy day and gave thanks for the privilege. As Sir Winston Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government except for all the rest. 

2019 is also the 90th anniversary of the “persons case” in which women were declared by the Privy Council of Great Britain to be legal persons in Canada, and therefore entitled to election to the parliament.

In the 21st century it is hard to imagine that women could be declared legally non-persons, but such were the prejudices and self-interest of men. In fact, throughout history, power has had to be wrested from one class to the next.  The barons  of England gained power from the king with Magna Carta, but they wouldn’t share with the commoners until forced. Those with land wouldn’t share power with renters, until forced. Whites wouldn’t share with Indigenous peoples and men wouldn’t admit women to the halls of power, until ordered to do so.

Canada derives its parliamentary system from Britain, so the history of the UK shaped our own.

Even in the US, founded on the principles of freedom and “no taxation without representation,” the founding fathers conceived the Electoral College as a way to keep the “riff raff” from having too much power.

 It seems everyone who champions the cause of democracy, changes sides when they have something to lose. 

But the human spirit is stronger than politics.  Men and women insist on being part of the process, not mere subjects commanded by the whim of a monarch. Every time I mark the X on my ballot, it tip my hat to those who fought for that right.

  I especially raise a teacup to the women who suffered ridicule, slander, incarceration and the torture of force feeding, that I might have a say in my country’s government.  Thank you famous five, and all the others who worked to secure my rights.

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Canadian Thanksgiving

For those of you who don’t live in Canada, let me explain that we celebrate Thanksgiving — a harvest festival– on the second Monday of October. It’s a great time to give thanks as the garden crops are safely stored, the apple and pear trees and begging to be picked and pumpkins brighten the farmer’s fields with their stunning orange. Not only that, but the trees are turning colour. It is a most beautiful time of the year. Who wouldn’t give thanks.

Traditionally, we celebrate with a big turkey dinner with friends and relatives. We eat too much, enjoy pumpkin pie with whipped cream and then go back and snare a few more bites. I’m writing this post while still feasting on left over turkey. I love turkey sandwiches.

Of course, the whole point of the day is to remind us to be grateful for the many blessings in our lives. Here is my list of writerly gratitudes.

  • Great books. This year I’ve found myself lost in a story over and over again. I’m so grateful to those authors who churn out a compelling tale that takes me beyond myself.
  • Writer friends. We’re a strange breed, we writers. We live in our heads most of the time. We’re always wondering “what if . . .?” It’s good to have company in the wilderness.
  • The internet. For all it’s flaws and dangers — and there are many– the internet allows me to look up facts in a few minutes rather than the hours needed to go to a library and find the proper reference book. It also allows me to stay in touch with all those writer friends, from Australia to my own back door.
  • Libraries. My own library has reorganized itself, much to my chagrin, to be a “happening place” with a very meagre supply of actual books. I hope that is an anomaly. I love walking into a well stocked library and browsing the stacks. Who knows what gem will appear?
  • Authors who share. As well as reading many great books from excellent authors, I’ve been able to attend workshops from first rate teachers. I can read blogs daily, weekly, or on occasion from people who understand both the craft and business of books. I can send an e-mail to someone I’ve never met and get a helpful reply. Authors truly are terrific.  As a side note, Margaret Atwood has just won her second Booker Prize for Literature.  She is donating her share to the Canadian Indigenous charity, Indspire, one she has previously helped with her late friend and First Nations leader, Chief Harry St. Denis.    
  • All those scribes from every time and place who “wrote it down” so that succeeding generations will know the facts and the stories and the details of everyday life that the historians might leave out.

Happy post Thanksgiving to everyone. May your shelves be filled with lovely books and your mind spin out stories to transform the world.

P.S. Feel free to share your own writerly thanksgivings in the comments section.

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Deep Point-of-View

I had been going to write about deep point of view today. Until I went outside. On a perfect fall day, all cerebral activity vanished and I had only emotion.

The bounty of this earth stirred my soul to gratitude and wonder. Look at this little apple tree, laden with fruit. And these, boxes and boxes of apples from the Golden Delicious.  We haven’t even touched the Northern Spy or the Ida Red.

My heart overflows. I must share–both the fruit and the feeling.

Not content with apples, I look about and see the fuchsia glowing in the sunlight.

Dahlias     burn red like fire and shine white like ice.

 

The last roses of summer perfume the air.

Fall, the season of harvest, overwhelms with its abundance, its extravagant grace.

Over the past week, we’ve heard a lot about climate change and the fragility of our planet. It is a cosmic topic, perhaps requiring an astronaut’s view to comprehend. But I can see the bounty of my orchard, the beauty of my garden, and tremble for them. 

Guess I did write about deep point of view after all. Mine. No skimming the surface here with words like “she worried,” or “he felt.” This page holds emotion with a capital E. That’s what a romance reader wants in our books.

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